Inclement weather and prolonged dry seasons have caused a dramatic decline in water resources in recent years. (Photo: VNA)

Dak Lak (VNA) - The Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) provinces should speed up the use of efficient irrigation technologies to mitigate the effects of droughts and water shortages, Nguyen Van Tinh, General Director of the Directorate of Water Resources, has said.

Speaking at a recent conference held in Dak Lak province, he said the provinces targeted to have 500,000ha of crops irrigated using efficient irrigation systems by 2020.

“To meet the target, the provinces need to have comprehensive solutions to develop efficient irrigation systems for plants and have policies to support farmers to expand the use of advanced and efficient irrigation technologies.”

The Central Highlands region, which comprises Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces, has the largest areas under high-value perennial cash crops such as coffee, pepper and rubber in the country.

It has nearly 622,300ha under coffee, more than 91,400ha under pepper, 246,800ha under rubber, and 81ha under cashew last year, according to the directorate.

The region is home to 1,190 reservoirs, 970 dams, 130 pumping stations, and 70 other irrigation works which can together irrigate nearly 290,000ha, or more than 20 percent of farm lands.

In recent years, inclement weather and prolonged dry seasons have caused a dramatic decline in water resources, including groundwater, available for irrigation.

A large number of farmers still irrigate their crops using traditional methods that require large volume of water, worsening the shortage.

Nguyen Nhu Hien, deputy head of the Plant Cultivation Department’s Southern Office, said perennial cash crops like coffee, pepper, cashew and rubber have proved their economic worth, improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of families.

In the context of the shortage of irrigation water in the dry season, the use of efficient irrigation systems and their effective exploitation are necessary for agricultural development, he said.

Efficient systems include drip and spray irrigation.

They can reduce water and fertiliser use by 20 percent and labour cost by 30 percent compared to traditional irrigation methods, according to the Western Highlands Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute.

In recent years, the Central Highlands provinces have encouraged farmers to use efficient irrigation systems through support policies such as subsidising their installation.  

In Lam Dong, 28,000ha of crops use such systems, accounting for 10 percent of the province’s total farming area, according to the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. –VNA